You know you talk about the Sunnis rising up. I mean the Sunnis have got to make a choice. Do they want to live in a society that’s free or do they want to live in violence and I suspect most mothers, no matter what they’re religion may be, will choose a free society so their children can grow up in a peaceful world.

Anyway, I’m optimistic about what’s taking place. ~George W. Bush

Have they so completely run out of ideas and even spin that they are reduced to “mothers love their children, mothers want their children to live in peace” rhetoric? That might well be true, but there are a great many mothers who still live in cultures that expect their sons to live and die with honour. If it appears to the average Sunni that he has been short-changed and his community ruined I imagine that his womenfolk would shame him into doing something about it. The saccharine, all-is-well optimism might play in Utah, but it will be greeted with hoots of derision in Iraq.

Besides, the Sunnis didn’t choose to “live in violence”–their country was invaded and their way of life destroyed! What would a normal man’s response be? He might just take offense and choose to fight for what was his, even if it were a pointless fight. This is not to idealise the insurgency (any normal people would resist the occupation of their land and the marginalisation of their community–there is nothing extraordinary about it), but to remind us that any Iraqi who rejects the “freedom” Bush offers is no different from, say, the sepoys whose religious convictions were outraged intolerably. There are things more meaningful than peace, even if peace is almost always the most rational course from the purely materialist perspective.

Surely Americans grant that there are things more important than peace or freedom, or else we would never consent or acquiesce in wars. On a less refined note, there is nothing so bitter as the resistance of a privileged minority that finds itself being displaced and excluded; no one, all things being equal, willingly yields power and status to others, especially if it means his community and offspring will be worse off for it.